BICOM Daily Briefing October 10 2003
Last updated: 2003-10-10
Once again Yasser Arafat has created turmoil and instability at the heart of the Palestinian body politic as the second Palestinian prime minister runs into difficulties of Arafats making. Israel searches for peace and seeks a viable partner with whom to negotiate. Israel continues to wait for that partner to emerge from the shadow of Yasser Arafat, who remains an obstacle to peace.
Political chaos within the Palestinian Authority, amidst threats by Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala to resign and reports of Yasser Arafats ailing health, is covered by all of the British press. In other news, The Times reports on an Israeli call-up of military reservists to counter increasing warnings of terror attacks. The paper also reports continuing US anger towards Syria, a subject also covered in The Daily Telegraphs editorial. In opinion pieces, Martin Woollacott, in The Guardian, argues for Hamas to be included in the political process, while Robin Cook, writing in The Independent, expresses his continuing support for the roadmap and international intervention to push the peace plan forward.
Quotes of the Day
Palestinian MPs critical of Arafats political manoeuvring:
Qadura Fares, Palestinian MP (09/10): We have no problem with Arafat declaring a state of emergency. But he has no right to declare an emergency cabinet. It has to be appointed by parliament ... He wants a cabinet that gets its legitimacy from Arafat.
Salah Abed al-Jawad, Palestinian MP (09/10): This government is to save Arafat's personal power. Why call an emergency government now? We have lived like this for years.
Behind the News
Abu Ala threatens to resign amidst Palestinian political turmoil:
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) informed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat yesterday that he wished to be relieved of the responsibility of forming a new Palestinian government. Senior Palestinian officials are trying to persuade Abu Ala not to resign. According to Palestinian sources, the latest disagreement has been brought about by Arafats sudden insistence that newly-appointed Interior Minister Nasser Youssef be dismissed from the cabinet. Arafat wished to limit the security powers of the Interior Minister in favour of retaining personal control over the Palestinian security forces. Amidst continuing speculation regarding Arafats health, Thursdays meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council descended into chaos as it became clear that there was not sufficient support from parliamentarians to approve an emergency cabinet, which critics claimed was unconstitutional.
IDF operates against weapons smuggling tunnels in Gaza:
A large Israeli army force has been operating at the southern end of the Gaza Strip in search of tunnels used for smuggling. There have been reports of clashes in the area. IDF sources say that there has been a recent rise of weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip. An Israeli military commander at the scene was quoted as saying that weapons smuggled in from Egypt to Gaza eventually make their way to the West Bank, so Israel had no choice but to strike deep against the tunnels. Israeli military officials also said that Palestinians were trying to acquire missiles that could knock out tanks and aircraft weapons they have not used up to now. They added that the Palestinians were trying to smuggle Katuysha rockets.
Suicide bombing wounds three in attack on checkpoint:
Two IDF soldiers and a Palestinian were wounded Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a military roadblock close to the West Bank city of Tul Karm. One of the soldiers sustained moderate to serious wounds and the second soldier and the Palestinian were lightly hurt in the blast at the checkpoint where Palestinians apply for humanitarian permits to cross roadblocks. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which is aligned to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility in a phone call to the Associated Press. The group identified the bomber as an 18-year-old high school student from a village south of Nablus.
Death toll from Haifa suicide bombing rises to 20:
Lydia Zilberstein, 56, who was critically wounded in the Haifa suicide bombing of the Maxim restaurant has died from her injuries. Her death brings to 20 the number of people killed in the attack. Three other members of the Zilberstein family, her husband, son and daughter-in-law, were lightly wounded in the terrorist attack and are still hospitalised.
Comment and opinion
The Daily Telegraph (10/10): The invasion by the world's sole superpower of a key Middle Eastern country was always going to send shockwaves through the region. Five months after George W Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the impact of the tremors is becoming clear.
Take, for example, Syria. From valuing that country's intelligence on al-Qa'eda following September 11, the Americans have become exasperated by its opposition to the occupation of Iraq and its continued harbouring of Palestinian terrorists.
The Administration has signalled it will no longer block congressional legislation that would authorise economic sanctions against Damascus. Bilateral trade and investment may not amount to much, but the green light given to the Syria Accountability Act indicates that Bashar al-Assad's regime is heading towards membership of Washington's "axis of evil".
The Jewish Chronicle (10/10): It would be nice to believe that the suicide savagery unleashed in Haifa has finally jolted at least some in the PA into recognising that the senseless killing must end, and that it is time to return to the process of negotiating a peace that sooner or later must come. But in the all-too-familiar public statements of condemnation by senior Palestinians, Arafat included, after the Haifa atrocity, there was no sign of recognition of a central imperative political and ethical in any move back to the table: unconditional rejection not just in words but action of all such attacks and of the Palestinian groups that organise them.
- New PM could quit in row with ailing Arafat (The Guardian);
- What the columnists said (The Guardian);
- Sharon's target is not Arafat, but Palestinian solidarity (The Guardian);
- Letters: Painful truths in the Middle East (The Guardian);
- Palestinian PM threatens to quit after Arafat row (The Independent);
- Cabinet crisis as ill Arafat argues with ministers (The Daily Telegraph);
- Palestinian turmoil over Arafat stunt (The Times);
- Reservist call-up for occupied areas (The Times);
- US extends axis of evil to Syria, Libya and Cuba (The Times);
- Palestinian PM threatens to quit (The Financial Times);
- Letter: Warning against Syria is justified (The Financial Times);
- Letter: Israel's opponents biggest obstacle to Mideast peace (The Financial Times);
- Yasser Arafat 'has cancer' (The Sun);
- Palestinian premier threatens to resign (The Scotsman);
- Letters: Sharon is recruiting sergeant for suicide bombers (The Scotsman);
- Ancram despairs of peace process (The Jewish Chronicle);
- Israeli anger over Levy's Arafat visit (The Jewish Chronicle);
- UN Ambassador Slams Israel (Totally Jewish);
- Holocaust MP Draws Israel Parallel (Totally Jewish);
- Israeli troops clash with Palestinian gunmen (Reuters);
- Palestinian PM wants to quit (Reuters);
- Syria and Israel continue war of words (Reuters);
- Suicide bomb wounds three in W. Bank (Reuters);
- New Palestinian cabinet in crisis (BBC Online);
- Arabs seek UN action on barrier (BBC Online);
- US set to tighten Syria sanctions (BBC Online);
- Palestinian PM Threatens To Quit (Sky News);
- Another Yom Kippur, another conflict (Economist);
- Ya'alon, Mofaz at odds over call-up of reserves (Haaretz);
- PM seeks cabinet support for prisoner swap (Haaretz);
- Suicide bomber injures 3 in Tul Karm (Haaretz);
- Ron Arad alive (Haaretz);
- Qureia does not want to be PM (Haaretz);
- Bomber wounds two soldiers (J-Post);
- Pondering life after Arafat (J-Post);
- Jerusalem Arabs aiding terrorists (J-Post);
- Syria backs PA anti-fence bid (J-Post)
The Israel Daily Briefing is supplied by BICOM